Author Topic: Betrothed Couples  (Read 2620 times)

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Offline Rosehip

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Betrothed Couples
« on: May 01, 2009, 07:35:15 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 07:36:07 PM by Rosehip »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 08:17:49 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...
But doesn't this make betrothal an end in itself, rather than a means of preparing the couple for the sacred rite of Matrimony (i.e., the wedding itself)?  Betrothal may have been just as binding as marriage, but it's marriage, not betrothal, that binds a couple together as husband and wife and permits them to live together as such.  Betrothal is merely a means to prepare the couple for marriage, or so that's how I see it.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 08:18:01 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 09:27:46 PM »
I know what you're saying, Peter, and as you know, I have very old-fashioned views on this subject, however, as I understand it, the actual marriage ceremony was a relatively recent addition to the Church, so for quite some time people married without an official church wedding as such. If it was so important, then why did it take so long for the Church to formulate the wedding ceremony?
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Offline Marc1152

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 09:35:43 PM »
I know what you're saying, Peter, and as you know, I have very old-fashioned views on this subject, however, as I understand it, the actual marriage ceremony was a relatively recent addition to the Church, so for quite some time people married without an official church wedding as such. If it was so important, then why did it take so long for the Church to formulate the wedding ceremony?

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Offline arimethea

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 10:52:42 PM »
Once a couple is betrothed it requires a divorce to break that bond. Betrothal is a joining of the couple however it does not allow for relations between the couple.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 11:25:27 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...

Because of the restrictions put on couples during Betrothal (which is not a "trial period," nor a "waiting state" anymore), the Church frowns on (in most areas) separating the betrothal and crowning.
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Offline Cudgel

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2009, 12:37:37 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...

This would be a great idea; unfortunately the Church today doesn't give a rat's behind about preserving the chastity of men and women who start entering serious dating relationships in their late teens and marry late 20s/early 30s.  Most Orthodox men are going to enter marriage having had several sexual partners and viewed too much porn:

http://www.blazinggrace.org/cms/bg/pornstats

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20061220/premarital-sex-the-norm-in-america

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2009, 01:16:42 PM »
unfortunately the Church today doesn't give a rat's behind about preserving the chastity of men and women who start entering serious dating relationships in their late teens and marry late 20s/early 30s. 

Really, doesn't give a rat's behind?  Not at all?  How do you draw this conclusion?

Most Orthodox men are going to enter marriage having had several sexual partners and viewed too much porn:

"Most?"  You have stats to back you up, or are you relying on Orthodox Christians to mirror the national statistics (which they often don't)?
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Offline Cudgel

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2009, 01:26:06 PM »
unfortunately the Church today doesn't give a rat's behind about preserving the chastity of men and women who start entering serious dating relationships in their late teens and marry late 20s/early 30s. 

Really, doesn't give a rat's behind?  Not at all?  How do you draw this conclusion?

Forgive the rhetoric; I exaggerate to make a point.
Most Orthodox men are going to enter marriage having had several sexual partners and viewed too much porn:


"Most?"  You have stats to back you up, or are you relying on Orthodox Christians to mirror the national statistics (which they often don't)?

The claim that sexual behaviors amongst Christian and non-Christian young persons in the U.S. is pretty much the same is made in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Preserve-Them-Lord-Orthodox-Developing/dp/1888212012

I believe we probably lag behind them, but not by much. That has been my experience.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 01:27:47 PM by Cudgel »

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2009, 02:22:15 PM »
Really, doesn't give a rat's behind?  Not at all?  How do you draw this conclusion?

Forgive the rhetoric; I exaggerate to make a point.

I should have noticed, and not jumped on your for it.

"Most?"  You have stats to back you up, or are you relying on Orthodox Christians to mirror the national statistics (which they often don't)?

The claim that sexual behaviors amongst Christian and non-Christian young persons in the U.S. is pretty much the same is made in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Preserve-Them-Lord-Orthodox-Developing/dp/1888212012

I believe we probably lag behind them, but not by much. That has been my experience.

What's too bad is we don't have a study specifically of Orthodox Christians; forget its use as a defense mechanism (in discussions like this one) - it would be a great self-evaluation of how well we are bringing people to a Life in Christ.
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Offline Cudgel

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2009, 02:26:16 PM »
Really, doesn't give a rat's behind?  Not at all?  How do you draw this conclusion?

Forgive the rhetoric; I exaggerate to make a point.

I should have noticed, and not jumped on your for it.

"Most?"  You have stats to back you up, or are you relying on Orthodox Christians to mirror the national statistics (which they often don't)?

The claim that sexual behaviors amongst Christian and non-Christian young persons in the U.S. is pretty much the same is made in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Preserve-Them-Lord-Orthodox-Developing/dp/1888212012

I believe we probably lag behind them, but not by much. That has been my experience.

What's too bad is we don't have a study specifically of Orthodox Christians; forget its use as a defense mechanism (in discussions like this one) - it would be a great self-evaluation of how well we are bringing people to a Life in Christ.

I have information on several Orthodox countries; I think the US is probably in the same boat as Greece:

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/greece.html

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/cyprus.html

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/russia.html

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2009, 02:28:10 PM »
Once a couple is betrothed it requires a divorce to break that bond. Betrothal is a joining of the couple however it does not allow for relations between the couple.

I'm currently away from my university library and unable to check the relevant work, but I've always had the impression that at least in the medieval Slavic Church, sexual relations were already possible after bethrothal.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2009, 03:39:37 PM »
I have information on several Orthodox countries; I think the US is probably in the same boat as Greece:

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/greece.html

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/cyprus.html

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/russia.html

I'll look at these when I have a few extra minutes!
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2009, 04:21:07 PM »
I believe we probably lag behind them, but not by much. That has been my experience.
And what does your experience consist of?  I have found that when talking about how many people nationwide engage in a particular behavior, generalization from personal experience is fraught with logical fallacy.
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Offline Cudgel

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2009, 04:27:16 PM »
I believe we probably lag behind them, but not by much. That has been my experience.
And what does your experience consist of?  I have found that when talking about how many people nationwide engage in a particular behavior, generalization from personal experience is fraught with logical fallacy.

I read literature which made general claims and noted its agreement with my own experience with Orthodox youth.  I have been at national conferences and had conversations with many persons. I'm also speculating based on numbers available from other Orthodox countries and statistics from theologically conservative Christians. Maybe our people are greatly outperforming the rest and thank God if they are.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 04:27:58 PM by Cudgel »

Offline Tzimis

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2009, 06:52:11 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...

Because of the restrictions put on couples during Betrothal (which is not a "trial period," nor a "waiting state" anymore), the Church frowns on (in most areas) separating the betrothal and crowning.

My sister was betrothed to her husband 25 years ago by a GOA Priest and married about 6 months later. I believe the Betrothal service is still done in many places in Greece. Could you give some more details as to why the church frowns upon it. I'm guessing that a formal engagement has taken over this custom here in the states.
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2009, 07:15:02 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...

If my (very likely wrong) understanding is correct, (NT times) Jewish marriage was natural, and not Sacramental/mysterious. A man would be betrothed to a virgin, and she would go to life with him in his house. They were basically married, but had not yet consummated their marriage, often because the girl was too young. When she was old enough he would take her to him as his wife.

In Orthodoxy marriage is a mystery. Betrothal binds the two together, but they are not yet in the sacrament of matrimony. They may not have marital relations or live together. In the Coptic church, the betrothal service is almost always done before the wedding (usually about a year), and includes prayers asking God to help the couple remain chaste until their wedding. I don't know the history of the purpose of this service, but this seems to me to be it's purpose today: it legitimizes the relationship between the two as they prepare for their wedding, and asks for grace for them to go through that difficult time in purity.

I think the only answer to the problem in the OP is that living together and having relations before the wedding are not options. If a wedding is not possible because the ridiculous $20 000 average cost of a wedding today is not financially possible, and if waiting in chastity until it is is also not possible, then there is a choice: either choosing the cultural norm of the expensive wedding at the expense of chastity, or forging the expensive wedding, and marrying simply without a diamond ring (only the bands are needed), limo, expensive dress (a simple on will do), and reception with flowing alcohol.

I know that practically speaking it is not that simple. Family pressures to conform to social norms can be very difficult, and should not be ignored outright as any bending to accommodate strong requests of parents is good as long as it does not lead to greater sin than the offense of not bending. But while it maybe be really hard, I really think that that is what the choice comes down to (if I have even understood the issue here).
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 07:18:03 PM by Jonathan »

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2009, 11:02:47 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...


In parts of Eastern Europe and in past times in the diaspora communities couples would have a bethrothal service months before the wedding at the bride's parents home.  They couldn't live together and technically not getting married after that service was/is out of the question.

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Re: Betrothed Couples
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2009, 11:05:44 PM »
In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. Our Orthodox wedding ceremony begins with the betrothal ceremony. My question is this: would it be possible, or is it ever practised that a couple who maybe isn't ready for some reason or another for the full wedding ceremony-maybe for financial or other reasons, I don't know-to have a private betrothal service and then start living together (and to have the full marriage ceremony, reception etc., later)? I hope this question makes sense...

Because of the restrictions put on couples during Betrothal (which is not a "trial period," nor a "waiting state" anymore), the Church frowns on (in most areas) separating the betrothal and crowning.

My sister was betrothed to her husband 25 years ago by a GOA Priest and married about 6 months later. I believe the Betrothal service is still done in many places in Greece. Could you give some more details as to why the church frowns upon it. I'm guessing that a formal engagement has taken over this custom here in the states.

Yes the American non Orthodox custom of Engagement has replaced the betrothal ceremony.  I see no problem in being betrothed months before the marriage.  In fact as Orthodox we should follow such Orthodox practices and not sell out our time honoured traditions for anything less.